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Social Media Local Government

Research warns local government to think carefully before adopting social media

By Hugh Jordan

October 13, 2011 | 2 min read

Local government in the UK must think carefully before jumping on the social media bandwagon, according to new research by Local Government Information Unit (LGiU).

Its new report, ‘Going where the eyeballs are: how email is connecting councils with their communities’, carried out in collaboration with GovDelivery, suggests email is still the preferred method of receiving communication for most constituents.

Together, LGiU and Gov Delivery surveyed a total of 377 lead communications, democratic services and customer services officers from 245 UK councils.

They found that just a quarter of participants use social media to receive news / information personally. Residents want information quickly and effectively – and in the vast majority of cases this is email. Less than 1% of the population follow their council on Twitter.

Social media can be beneficial in certain cases. Blackburn and Darwen Council’s ‘BwDWinter’ campaign on Facebook saved 10,000 avoidable calls and nearly £8,000 last year. However, a social media strategy must not be implemented to the detriment of other more popular services.

Rob Dale, online engagement lead at LGiU suggests an integrated approach is needed:“Our research shows that authorities can reduce communication costs whilst building a more effective and engaging communications strategy. But to do this they need to choose the right tools for the job,” Dale says. “In practice, this looks like a fusion of transactional email notifications and social media.”

More info on the research can be found here: here.

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